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Before playing the demo, I honestly was not completely sure what to expect of Conception II. I have never played the first one (which was release on the PSP and with no English version). I had received emails from Atlus informing me of the demo’s release date and containing videos introducing the characters. I liked the art style and the music. I then went to the official Atlus site for the game and saw the explanation of the combat and the party system. It didn’t really all click until I got my hands on the 3DS demo that went live this afternoon. I literally spent HOURS playing it. Needless to say, I am completely convinced that Conception II will be an amazing game. So much so that I am pre-ordering my 3DS copy in the mourning. So, what was so good?
For starters, the controls are great. I had no issues moving my character around in dungeons (labyrinths called “Dusk Circles”) or navigating menus. The graphics are great, especially for special attacks (like “Seventh Burst” moves) and while speaking with characters outside of battle. I love the design and style of Conception II. The demo is perfect for people who have no knowledge of the game prior to playing it. It gives people a simple enough sense of the plot and current situation the characters are in without over indulging. It also explains the basics of player’s options for interactions with other characters and expanding their parties they will use to attack labyrinths. In addition, it does a great job explaining the combat system in this game. For me, that combat engine so enormous promise.
Conception II is a turn-based RPG where positioning is a pivotal factor. Where you attack enemies matters. The direction you are facing when attacked matters. Players get to decided where they attack from on the field, if they choose to attack at all. Turn order plays into this as well. The speed attribute determines when a party member or monster gets to attack. Dynamically in battles, turn order can change if the player utilizes the chain drive system. The chain drive system is Conception II’s combo system. What makes it interesting is that utilizing it on a monster you slow the monster down. When you max the chain drive meter out, all monsters on the field on slowed down. Once the monster get a chance to attack, the chain drive is reset. This is interesting because the locations you will have to attack to activate and/or continue a chain are not necessarily the locations that will net you the most damage or even leave you in the most safe position to guard or eat damage.
The battlefield will have markings that let you know an attack from that location will continue the chain. If you attack a monster from a direction it is weakest in, the chain drive meter will fill but by very little. If you attack from one of the previously mentioned spots, it fills the most. In addition to slowing down monsters, the chain drive system garners the player bonus “EXP” and “Glow”. Then there is Ether Density, which players must have to fight monsters. It is yet another aspect of the combat for players to keep in mind. Players will be best to monitor the health and mana of their party members as neither re-fills or re-charges automatically. Items are extremely important. Each member of the party has individual stats, abilities, and items that are pooled together to form the squad attack.
The Trial labyrinth players play in the demo is a solid length to test new players of the franchise while to getting them used to the combat. Labyrinths are filled with ordinary and trap chests that give players items (which I imagine will be a necessity when players face off with much more difficult monsters and larger, more complex labyrinths). Ordinary chests have average items with Trap chests have better items at the cost of potentially having a bomb that explodes, damaging the player. It is a basically a coin flip for the risk, but usually worth it for the reward, if the player can stand to risk taking damage. Ah, I almost forgot to mention that players cannot save while in a labyrinth. This increases the stakes and difficulty in an old-school challenging manner that enjoy and find lacking in most current games.
I do still have a question though. While playing, I noticed there didn’t appear to be an option to use Japanese audio with English subtitles. I am not sure if this will be available in the retail version of the game. Fortunately, the English voice acting will more than suffice. I had no complaints while playing. Speaking of Audio, the music in this game is great. It is varied, yet fits the setting of the game. I look forward to listening to the OST CD that comes with the Limited Edition of this game available for everyone that pre-orders the game (physical version only I assume).
Conception II is an RPG that apparently is almost half dating-sim as well. You can tell Atlus focused on the RPG aspect the most though. I am excited for this game completely for the RPG aspects, but can say that I find the differences between the characters and interactions with them enjoyable. This is in large part due to the look and sound of the characters coming together to give them unique personalities. When I finished the demo, I was given the option to save. You can transfer this save into the full retail copy of the game. It is a nice extra incentive to get people to play the demo. Now that I think of it, there is one problem I have with the Conception II demo…it ends. Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars has been out in Japan since late August of last year. It comes out in America on April 15th 2014 for the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita. For players in Europe, information on when you guys get the demo is coming soon according to Atlus so keep checking out the official site for the game HERE.
Update: The Atlus PR Manager released a video where he gives tips for the all the aspects of the game from combat to classmating (whoever at Atlus came up with the term “classmating” has a great sense of humour). You can watch it below: